Ian Gasson  looks back over 50+ years of biking

It's not surprising Ian Gasson has loved bikes all his life - it's in his blood  - his Grandad  captured his imagination with fascinating stories as he was growing up. And as you will know...once a biker...always a biker.

Read on for more of Ian's tales

'Growing up with my grandparents and listening to my Grandad’s stories about his BSA Bantams and Francis Barnetts, I was fascinated by the world of bikes and as my Grandad never drove a car, I was always going to get a Bike'. 

Ian's biking philsophy:

I think for me having a bike is all about the adventures that can be had' 

 'I shall keep riding for as long as it puts a smile on my face - see you on the road.                     Cheers Ian. 

 Jon's note:

I find Ian's story really refreshing because it illustrates how smaller cc bikes don't prevent you from covering long distances even with camping gear etc

 'As soon as my 16th Birthday came, I was encouraged to get a bike and as luck would have it all my mates were also buying bikes. The bike of choice was the Yamaha FS1E (Fizzie) although at least one chap had a Honda SS 50 and another a Fantic. I got my Fizzie from Blays of Twickenham (now sadly no longer trading) it was brand new for only £199.00 -  a lot of money in 1973. Ever since this first one, bikes have threaded their way in and out of my life. 

' ...we were the fastest and coolest things on the road- exhaust downpipe glowing red hot-a camping trip to Weymouth used to take all day at 40-45 mph.'  

Ian's first love - an FS1E like this

'After the Fizzie, came a Yamaha DT175 from Roy Smiths at Surbiton (now sadly no longer trading) not because I wanted to go off road but because I originally thought it looked cool!

 By now, I was fully trained in the Regular Army based in Lincolnshire - a tour of Northern Ireland was to follow. When leave permitted, I rode back to the Smoke  but it was was too much in the winter - a door to door lift in my mates Capri Ghia was much better.'

pic courtesy of VJMC

'REME Days' - (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) -  Armstrong 500cc (as used by the British Military )

'Then on leaving the Regular Army in 1978 I bought a blue  Yamaha RD250 for commuting to work, getting around and for fun.' 

Ian's RD250 was similar to this - sporting its stylish 'Coffin' tank - quite radical at the time.

... At Land’s End in his very cool 70’s style blue leather bike jacket in 1979. 

291 miles each way on his 250 - no problems!

We all find in our biking activities that sometimes 'life gets in the way!'

 After a short break Ian was back on 2 wheels and in 1983 his first Honda appeared... 

If it was the 80s it had to be a Suprerdream!

Ian like so many at the time found the Super Dream a solid ride - especially in comparison to the RD250 which was a bit skittish.

70,000 of these were sold in the UK alone

In 1980 alone 315,000 were sold worldwide

'In the 90s with a bit more cash, came a brand new Kawasaki GPZ 305 from CBS in Whitton (we're pleased to report that they are still trading!!).

 Despite being reversed into by the CBS parts van, the Kwaka took me on many  adventures, including my first ever Bike Rally at Clay Cross in Derbyshire. I also went a number times to the BMF Rally at Peterborough with my daughter on pillion.'

(Jon's note: well have you never left the handbrake off?? - I did and once demolished a wall - but that's another story)

Clay Cross Rally Derbyshire 1992

The 305 loaded up with camping gear and Derbyshire bound!

Jon's note: See! it can be done on less than 20,000cc

The 305 at the BMF rally in Peterborough 1992

Now you see it...now you don't - Ian trying to hide his bike??

'The thing I liked about this bike -  the belt drive it gave smooth power transmission and gear changes and no messy lubrication.'

'By 1994 ,and looking for something meatier it was back to Blays for an early Yamaha Diversion XJ600 later replaced by a newer model with twin discs. '

First came a 1995 single disc model

Same greenhouse and fence.. but now a 1998 twin disc model

'These coped admirably with touring all around the UK, including Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England, too many stories here... I just had a sense of adventure and an imagination. 

 Ok...just a few lines, I went camping to Senen Cove to see the eclipse and met a girl from Germany, a few Eurostar trips to Koln followed. 

Later, when camping at Dunnet Head at the very far north of  Scotland, I had pitched my tent in a depression in the ground. That night a massive thunderstorm with heavy rain filled the depression -  my tent with me inside was trying to float away. Two girls who were watching and laughing from the comfort of their camper van came to my rescue and comforted me with hot tea, jaffa cakes and a dry bed for the night.'

Then there was a trip to Ireland - I will let Ian tell you about his trip to Cork if you bump into him...but the local Garda never got involved!

Touring Ireland on the Diversion 600

The Swanky Bar, Shannon 

'Fast forward to 2019 and working shifts on the railways, often finishing a 01:00 hrs., I needed that a bike that was simple and reliable. I bought a used low mileage 2015 Yamaha Xmax 250 from Lamba Autos (they're still trading as well!!). Primarily for commuting I did take it camping to the infamous Porlock Hill'

Jon's note: Porlock Hill is a road west of Porlock, Somerset. It is part of the A39, connecting Porlock to Lynmouth and Barnstaple in Devon and is the steepest A-road in the United Kingdom, approaching 1 in 4 (25%) in places.  

'What can I say about this bike, it was ok -  but it quickly ran out of breath on the motorway and it had no ABS (which is a life saver on a bike).The seat was a bit high for me which caused me to drop it. I slowly fell out of love with it to the point where it just had to go.'

The view from Porlock Hill, Devon

Camping at Porlock in June 2022

'So maybe out of love with the Xmax 250... but in June 2023, a new love. I was very impressed with a Honda Forza 350 in Pearl Falcon Grey from HGB at Ruislip. What a brilliant bike - it has all the modern safety features including ABS and the seat is the right height.'

Forza 350 - as just collected new from HGB (still trading😏)

'I think for me having a bike is all about the adventures that can be had and the sense of belonging to a like-minded and unique group of individuals. 

I remembered that there were owner’s clubs and sure enough I soon found The Honda Owners Club. I am now a member of the HOWL group who are very friendly, welcoming, and social bunch. 

I shall keep riding for as long as it puts a smile on my face - see you on the road. '

We were delighted when Ian joined the National HOC at The Ace Cafe in July 2023 and has been a regular and active member of HOWL since

Thanks for sharing your bikes with us Ian!